From the Desk of the CEO: February 2024

Agricultural exports are a critical pillar of the U.S. economy and its global presence. However, the current landscape presents a formidable challenge for value-added products. The U.S. imports $74 billion more in processed food and agriculture than it exports – significant deficit!

Food Export-Midwest and Food Export-Northeast work to close that gap. The suppliers in our 23 member states have high quality products that appeal to a variety of international audiences. With offerings to suit every palate, our recent coverage by U.S. Foodlink on African flavors hints at the next chapter in American cultural richness, entrepreneurial drive, and culinary innovation. Just as in 1948 when Evripides Kontos immigrated to the United States from Cyprus with a dream of becoming a fillo dough baker, subsequently transforming his venture into Kontos Foods, a global exporter of flatbreads, we anticipate similar success stories emerging from the diverse flavors of the African continent.

To ensure a resilient and sustainable future, a shift toward a diversified portfolio of trading partners is warranted. Food Export is strategically positioned to spearhead this shift, aligning with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) goals of Market Access Program (MAP) and Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP) for the sustained prosperity of the U.S. agricultural economy.

Our organization has consistently surpassed the USDA’s benchmark of $24.50 in export returns per program dollar, demonstrating our effective transformation of federal awards into tangible successes for U.S. taxpayers. For more than 50 years, Food Export has been an industry leader in empowering small- and medium-sized businesses in our 23-state region to sell their food and agricultural products internationally. We have a proven track record in fully utilizing the funding we have received through the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP). ATP is sunsetting later this year.

Our success stories speak volumes. In 2023, nearly 200 suppliers shared success stories reporting on increased sales, successful market expansion, and effective market diversification. This was the most we’ve ever had.

We are eagerly looking towards the opportunities presented by potential new funding under RAPP. Our application, now submitted to FAS, is designed to create new strategic opportunities, address challenges, and accelerate international trade in underserved markets. As we know more about the outcomes of our application, this space will be used to share more about the exciting things ahead.

My view is that Food Export will have an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally help transform and uplift the capacity of the small- and medium-sized businesses in our region to thrive in international markets. Food and agricultural suppliers will be poised to make a substantial and lasting impact on their bottom lines and the U.S. economy. We are committed to leveraging new funds to their fullest potential, ensuring that U.S. suppliers are not just participants, but leaders in the global agricultural economy of the future.

Brendan Wilson 

CEO/Executive Director 

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Listen to Our Podcast!

Episode 101 – Food Export 101 with Brendan Wilson

Feb 14, 2024 – 27:34 MIN